By Tonya Muchano

Upon meeting them, no one could possibly guess that the co-owners of Bay and Algoma’s newest artist-run gallery The Creative have only known each other for a few short months. Deena Kruger, Steve Gerow, and Tracy Barry practically finish each other’s sentences as they tell the story of how they came to work together. “It was through a Facebook post,” says Kruger. “Aldo Ruberto put out a call to artists in February saying the space was available. I had quit my job in November in order to pursue my own dreams, and it was like, ‘ok, maybe this is the universe telling me to do this.’”

“Of everyone who responded, it was the three of us who were able to commit the resources to make it happen,” adds Gerow. “That’s how we met.”

Fast forward just a few short months and the gallery is nearly ready to open. A tour through the space shows still-blank slate walls with artists’ names taped to different sections in preparation for the art to go up, a cozy but bright classroom space, and two enormous slat wall pillars on wheels. “It’s so that we can move them around, depending on what we need,” explains Gerow. “It makes the space very flexible. And it’s all custom made—the carpentry, even the brackets. It’s been really collaborative.”

The Creative will be home to over 20 local artists, and will be a space for the art-curious to explore their creative side through painting parties, classes, and workshops. “It will be an interactive art gallery,” explains Barry. “A place to explore your creativity. We get a lot of messages from society saying ‘you aren’t good enough.’ We want people to build their confidence, to be who they are.”

Mentorship and artist development are key to the work they hope to achieve. The gallery will feature a broad spectrum of both established and emerging artists. Their opening will even include the art of 10 Kingsway Elementary School students, thanks to a project Kruger recently undertook at the school. In addition, Kruger, who has a background in coaching and mentorship, plans to host retreats and workshops geared toward personal growth, motivation, and life skills. Some of these will integrate learning through art. “Our goal,” adds Gerow, “is for someone to walk in that door to take our classes and end up on our gallery wall. We want to change people’s lives.”

The Creative is located at 176 Algoma Street.